The Vision of God's Building, by Witness Lee


a) One Expression of the Ark

David had prepared everything for God’s building. Now Solomon began to build the temple at Jerusalem at the place prepared by David and according to the pattern which God had given to David (2 Chron. 3:1). The historical account of this building is full of meaning, for it reveals how Solomon brought everything of the former tabernacle to the new temple. All the vessels including the ark were brought to it (1 Kings 8; 2 Chron. 6:41—7:3). There was still only one ark with one container. Everything was normal. We have already mentioned the abnormal situation which existed in David’s day—the proper tabernacle was at Shiloh, but the improper one pitched by David was on Mount Zion. Now, according to God’s way of recovery, the old, proper tabernacle was mingled with the new temple, and the one ark was brought into that temple. This is absolutely normal, a full recovery according to God’s pattern. We see here a vital and important principle. God will never allow two expressions of His ark to exist at the same time. The tabernacle could not exist by itself; it must be mingled with the temple. This proves that in God’s sight there was always one unique expression of His ark. God is never careless. According to our human opinion and way, as long as a better, enlarged temple is built up, we would forget the old one. We may think it is all right to leave the old one where it is, but God is more careful. If after the temple was built the old tabernacle still existed separately, ground would be left for some to say, “Don’t you see, though the temple is built, the tabernacle still remains. What’s wrong with having two or more expressions of the ark?” But God does not leave any such divisive ground to us. We cannot have two or more expressions of God’s testimony. There must be only one unique expression of the ark; the tabernacle must be swallowed up by the new temple. Thus, there was no division, no separation, and no confusion. We must realize today that there is only one unique expression of Christ in one unique church. This is God’s way of recovery.

b) The Meaning of Enlargement

In God’s way of recovery through Solomon there was a tremendous enlargement. We have seen how the measurements of the temple were much greater than those of the tabernacle. Almost everything in the temple was two or three times enlarged (1 Kings 6:2, 20), and the utensils were enlarged ten times. However, there was one item which was not in the slightest enlarged—the ark. It is because the ark is Christ, and Christ Himself can never be enlarged. He is “the same yesterday and today, yea and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He is always the same. Our experience of Him, however, must be greatly increased and enlarged.

In God’s recovery through Solomon the brass altar of the outer court was much increased in size (2 Chron. 4:1). It accommodated many more offerings. This means that we must have an enlarged, increased experience of the cross of Christ. Our experience of consecration should be greatly increased. If the old, small brass altar were kept in the new building, it certainly would not fit. Even so, our experiences of the cross must be increased to match the enlargement of God’s building.

We do not have the measurements of the old laver in the tabernacle, but we do know that there was only one laver. However, in the temple, in the recovery, there were ten lavers. And between these ten lavers, in the center, was a sea—not a pool or a lake, but a sea (2 Chron. 4:2-6). This reveals that the exposing, enlightening, cleansing, and purging work of the Holy Spirit must be greatly enlarged and increased in us for God’s building.

In the former tabernacle the showbread table was very small, and there was only one. But in the temple there were ten showbread tables (2 Chron. 4:8), an increase of ten times. Formerly we experienced Christ in a small way as our bread of life, but now our experience of this living bread must be increased ten times. In the tabernacle there was only one small lampstand, but in the temple there were ten lampstands (2 Chron. 4:7). Our experience of Christ as the light of life shining within us must also be increased to match the showbread tables in the enlarged temple. We must match God’s enlargement.

Not only was there enlargement in size and weight, but also an increase in the constituents of the temple. We have seen how in the former tabernacle there was only one kind of wood—acacia. But in the temple there are at least three kinds: There was cypress (fir, 1 Kings 6:15, 34), a tree commonly planted in cemeteries in ancient times. This wood signifies something existing in death, thus typifying the death of Christ. Then there was the cedar from Lebanon (1 Kings 6:15-16), signifying in typology the resurrection, or the resurrected Christ. There was also olive wood (1 Kings 6:31). The olive tree supplied the oil, and oil is a type of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this tree signifies the Christ who gives us the Spirit. From these three kinds of wood we experience Christ in death, in resurrection, and as the Holy Spirit.

There was also a greater quantity of gold used in the temple. The entire temple was overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:20-22). In addition, there were many varieties of stones, and they were large stones. The entire temple building was composed of stones. In the building of God stones signify transformation. A precious stone is not an element originally created by God, but an entity which has been wrought upon and brought into being over a period of time. We human beings were originally composed of clay, but now by the work of the Holy Spirit we are being transformed into something precious.

In the church life there are the real experiences of Christ in death, in resurrection, and as the Holy Spirit. There is also the experience of the pure gold, the divine nature of God being added to us, and the experience of constant transformation. It is by such experiences that we become adequate materials for God’s building. We should not have a large expression, yet only a small experience of Christ. We must have an enlargement as well as an increase of our experiences of Christ that we may match the enlarged expression. The ark, Christ Himself, can never be enlarged—He is continually the same. But we must grow in our experiences of Him.

(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)